Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Inside out

When New Zealand dealer galleries raised their commission from thirty-three and a third percent to forty percent there was a lot of grumbling. In most cases the change was made without discussion and the discussions that did take place were mostly announcements in disguise. The more recent increase from 40 percent to 50 percent barely caused a ripple. The unregulated New Zealand dealer system pretty much follows how it’s done in the rest of the world. The risk of this laissez-faire approach is being demonstrated right now by the ongoing case in Auckland between Stephen Bambury and Andrew Jensen. Jensen was reported as admitting, “The records were complicated by the sometimes casual nature of their financial relationship.” This “included oral agreements, payments being used to offset other expenses, and trade-ins.” Not an arrangement that would come as a big surprise to most New Zealand artists. The problem is that as prices rise and projects require more financing, these casual relationships come under far greater pressure. An interesting analysis of similar problems internationally is offered by the collector (and financier) Alain Servais. He complains that the dealer system has “no rules, no respect, no ethos, no nothing.”

You can access these three pieces here: